What NOT To Do When Camping Yellowstone National Park

The Do’s and Don’ts of Camping Yellowstone

Pop Quiz – What states can claim at least part of Yellowstone National Park?

You’re off to a good start if you answered Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. But let’s get into the nitty gritty with some things and do and don’t want to do when camping Yellowstone (and hiking or biking, too!).

The Appeal of Yellowstone

Did you know that Yellowstone National Park attracts more than 4.5 million visitors every year? It’s not a mystery as to why! With access to some of the most spectacular natural beauty and wildlife viewing opportunities, Yellowstone National Park is the ideal place to visit for those who love the outdoors.

Despite Yellowstone’s natural beauty, many things visitors do each year have a detrimental effect on themselves, other visitors, and the park’s ecosystem. If you’re planning on visiting in the near future, be sure to follow these easy tips for camping Yellowstone National Park safely and responsibly.

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Three Essential To Do’s When Visiting Yellowstone

1. Give the Wildlife Some Room to Breathe

Getting close to many of the Yellowstone National Park animals can be awfully tempting. Taking a selfie with a buffalo or petting an elk calf may seem like a good idea at the moment. But doing so can be extremely dangerous for you and the animals.

Plenty of people are hurt every year from getting too close to the wildlife. In fact, there have already been two reported incidents in 2022 where a buffalo gored tourists after getting too close to them.

How Much Space?

The National Park Service advises that you leave at least 50 yards of space between yourself and wildlife like buffalo, elk, and deer. For bears and wolves, staying back by at least 100 yards is recommended. Doing these things will help keep you and the wildlife from having a negative encounter.

2. Take Only Pictures and Leave Only Footprints When Camping Yellowstone

When visiting Yellowstone National Park, taking home a natural souvenir may be tempting. Whether it’s a rock, antler shed, or pinecone, it’s best to leave it where you found it. Removing items from the park can potentially impact the environment and the animals in it.

Now you might be thinking, “well, what is the harm in taking a single rock or antler home?” Consider the number of visitors that come to Yellowstone each year (over 4.5 million!) and think about how much would be removed if everyone took a piece of Yellowstone’s natural resources home with them. After a few years, the land would be stripped of many things the animals need to thrive in the park.

What You DO Want to Take

Instead of taking things home with you that you find in the park, take pictures instead. They’ll last a lot longer and allow millions more visitors to enjoy the park in the years to come. And if you really want to take home a souvenir, the gift shops in the park villages are more than accommodating.

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3. Stay on the Designated Trails and Walkways

Yellowstone is one of the largest national parks in the lower 48. In fact, its more than 2 million acres makes it larger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island together! So, you may be tempted to venture off the designated trails and walkways to explore all the park has to offer.

Don’t do that!

More Than a Safety Precaution

Staying on the designated trails and walkways helps preserve the park and keep you safe. Erosion from treading on undesignated areas damages the vegetation and animal habitat over time and can ruin the experience for you and everyone around you. In addition to destroying the landscape, you can get seriously injured if you stumble into one of the many geothermal pools located throughout the park.

Instead, take one of the many trails throughout the park. You’ll surely find something you’ll love as there are over 900 miles worth of hiking trails to explore.

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Things You DON’T Want To Do When Camping Yellowstone

Please DON’T…

Leave the Campsite Without Supplies

At a minimum, carry water, sunscreen, and a small first aid kit.

Forget the Bear Spray

You don’t want to use it. But you also don’t want to be without it if needed.

Drink Water You “Found”

Be prepared with plenty of safe drinking water at your campsite and on the go.

Wait to Make Yellowstone Campground Reservations

There might be 12 campgrounds, but they fill quickly. If you’re planning on camping in Yellowstone, make your reservations ASAP.

Plan on Camping Yellowstone Year-round

Campgrounds in Yellowstone are seasonal (very seasonal!). Mammoth is the only year-round facility (see our list below).

Rely on Provisions Once You Arrive

We’re not saying you won’t find some shops. But you’re better off packing everything you need – just in case.

Count on Internet Access

You will encounter dead zones, and not all campgrounds have WiFi access. Grab that transistor radio and go old school!

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Camp Safely & Have Fun!

Yellowstone is one of those parks that everyone has to visit at some point in their lives. It’s a national treasure that needs to be enjoyed and protected for years and years to come.

By following these tips on what not to do when camping Yellowstone National Park, you’ll set yourself up for an excellent experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life, as will everyone who comes after you.

Yellowstone Campgrounds

Yellowstone CampgroundNumber of SitesReservations
Bridge Bay432Bridge Bay Reservations 
Canyon273Canyon Campground Reservations 
Fishing Bridge RV310Fishing Bridge Reservations 
Grant Village430Grant Village Reservations 
Indian Creek70Indian Creek Reservations 
Lewis Lake84Lewis Lake Campground Reservations 
Madison278Madison Campground Reservations 
Mammoth - only year-round campground82Mammoth Campground Reservations 
Norris111Norris Campground Reservations 
Pebble Creek27Pebble Creek Campground Reservations 
Slough Creek16Slough Creek Campground Reservations 
Tower Fall31Tower Fall Campground Reservations 

Did we leave a nearby campground off the list? Send us the info, and we’ll be sure to add it.